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Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005, bringing with it sustained winds of 140 miles per hour, storm surge flooding of 20 to 30 feet above normal tide levels, and large and dangerous battering waves. Widespread damage occurred, including beach erosion and damage and/or destruction of homes and infrastructure throughout the 474 square miles subject to surge inundation. Hurricane Rita placed additional hardships on the devastated Gulf coast.
Why Remapping Was Undertaken
To assist with the ongoing Hurricane Katrina and Rita recovery effort, the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), revaluated and remapped the flood hazards and risks for the 14 communities located in Mississippi’s three coastal counties.
The reevaluation and remapping effort resulted in Preliminary versions of detailed, updated, Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) that can be used to determine where to build and to what elevation new structures should be constructed to maximize the safety of homeowners and business owners. You may view the Preliminary versions of the DFIRMs and associated Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports on the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Web site. You may also access the Preliminary versions of the DFIRMs through the Preliminary DFIRMs page on this Web site.
How the Project Fits in with Other Mapping Projects
The project is being performed as part of the ongoing multiyear FEMA Flood Map Modernization, or (Map Mod) effort to update and modernize flood maps nationwide. Both riverine and coastal engineering analyses were performed because FEMA determined that the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) produced during the 1980s and 1990s did not reflect current flood hazards and risks. The remapping effort in Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties began in 2004 and the new mapping was well underway before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked their devastation.
The remapping project has been, and continues to be, a team effort. FEMA, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, county and local governments, and contractors that support them play important roles in making sure the DFIRMs are accurate and are made available to community officials and citizens in a timely manner. A host of information is available from the various team members, so please visit their Web sites.
New Maps Enhance Local Decision-Making
The DFIRMs and related products will reflect current flood risks, and property owners throughout Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties will have up-to-date, reliable, Internet-accessible information about their flood risk. Some residents and business owners will learn that their flood risk is higher, and others will learn that their flood risk is lower, than they thought. This updated information will assist community officials and citizens in making decisions to reduce or even eliminate flood risk. Such decisions could include raising the first floor of a structure and purchasing flood insurance.
New Maps Replace Old Maps
The DFIRMs are based on the latest engineering analysis methods, state-of-the-art technology, and current conditions. They provide more detailed, reliable, current, and Internet-accessible data on the flood hazards and risks in Mississippi’s coastal communities. These new maps will assist community officials and citizens in making decisions to reduce their flood risk. Therefore, these updated flood maps are an important tool that can be used to make each community and each citizen safer.
When the DFIRMs become effective (see Calendar/Schedule page), they will also supersede (for flood insurance and floodplain management purposes), the current effective FIRMs. The DFIRMs also replace the Katrina Flood Recovery Maps that FEMA produced in November 2005 to help State and local officials, as well as homeowners, identify flood hazards and to start the recovery and redevelopment effort. To determine which map and what elevation to use in making decisions regarding construction projects, please consult with the floodplain administrator for the community in which the project is taking place. Floodplain administrator information is provided on the Community Information page for each county.
Data used to produce the Katrina Flood Recovery Maps have been used in the engineering analysis for the Mississippi Coastal Remapping Project, but the DFIRMs are more precise because of the advanced engineering studies, mapping technology, and improved data quality that were used.
If You Need More Information
If you need more information or have a question, several options are available:
If you do not find the information you need, you can also contact a FEMA Map Specialist via e-mail at the address provided on the Ask the Experts page.
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